Open up an impactful dialogue with your students
Create an opportunity for your students to open up with you on difficult subjects by creating an avenue by which they can communicate with you privately!
If a student says that they're having a bad day during your daily check-in, remind your class that they can put a note in the "What I Wish My Teacher Knew" box if they'd like to talk privately about it. The "What I Wish My Teacher Knew" box can be an enclosed box, set somewhere in the classroom that doesn't attract much notice, where students have the choice to submit anonymous messages for your attention. These entries can be used to learn from students, generate topics for talking circles, or open a private conversation with a student in need.
I've seen this simple box used in ingenious ways. One teacher I work with wrote three prompts on the board for their Friday talking circle and asked the students to choose one, and write their choice on a piece of paper and drop it into their "What I Wish My Teacher Knew" Box. When I joined this class for their weekly talking circle, the topic chosen by the students was "Sadness and Depression". This led to one of the richest discussions I've ever witnessed - from a 5th grade class no less! It also led to a discussion on feelings, and how feelings themselves are neither good nor bad, but instead it's how we choose to let them impact us, and what we do about them, that either holds us in a state of sadness and depression or not.
The teacher articulated to her students that there is a "healthy" and "unhealthy" side of feelings, which resulted in a critical discussion on how to help oneself and help each other when struggling with sadness and depression. Some of these young 5th grade students already had experience with someone in their lives committing suicide, or spending time in jail, or struggling with substance abuse.
This one simple box, the "What I Wish My Teacher Knew" box, opened up an incredibly powerful dialogue, strengthened relationships between students in the circle, and reinforced a supportive classroom climate and culture.
What could a "What I Wish My Teacher Knew" box do for your classroom?